Wes Unseld holds the distinction of being the best player in Washington Bullets/Wizards history. The NBA Hall of Famer passed today at the age of 74 and takes that title a career of excellence and an unforgettable impact on people with him to the afterlife.
Unseld was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets with the second overall pick in 1968 out of Louisville, where he was a consensus All-American. He led the then-Bullets to the NBA Championship in 1978.
“On behalf of the Wizards organization and the entire MSE Family, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Unseld family, including his wife Connie, daughter Kimberly, son Wes Jr. and his two grandchildren as well as his large number of extended family and friends,” said Chairman & CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Ted Leonsis. “We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond.”
Unseld was a game-changing talent. In his first season in Baltimore in 1968-69, Unseld’s arrival translated to 21 more wins for the Bullets and the team’s first-ever playoff appearance. The tenacious bruiser averaged 13.8 points, 18.2 rebounds per game averages in his first season earned him Rookie of the Year and MVP Honors, making him just one of two players in league history (along with Wilt Chamberlain) to win both awards in the same season.
“Those of us who were fortunate enough to spend time with Wes knew him as a generous and thoughtful man whose strong will was matched only by his passion and drive for uplifting others,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “His physical prowess, undeniable talent and on-court demeanor may have struck fear in opponents throughout the NBA but he will be remembered best as a mentor, leader and friend.”
The 6-7 center was the rock of the Bullets’ success in the 70’s, spending his entire 13-year career with the team.